On this day…27 May

On 27 May 1929 Our Exagmination Round His Factification For Incamination Of Work In Progress was published.

This book of twelve essays and two letters was produced in an effort to counter the prevailing incomprehension with which Joyce’s Work in Progress was being greeted as parts of it were published in various magazines. The authors of the essays were ‘12 disciples’ of Joyce, people who were close to him and to the production of Work in Progress.

As Sylvia Beach, who published the book at Shakespeare and Company in 1929, made clear later, these writers had the advantage of hearing from Joyce himself various hints about the book. Thus the essays reflect Joyce’s own thinking as much as the ideas of the individual authors.

The name also was suggested by Joyce, and the title of the book of essays was later incorporated into Finnegans Wake as “Your exagmination round his factification for incamination of a warping process.” Many of the essays appeared in transition, edited by Eugene Jolas, where large parts of Work in Progress were published from April 1927 onwards.

The contributors to Our Exagmination… and their contributions were as follows:

Samuel Beckett – ‘Dante… Bruno. Vico.. Joyce’
Marcel Brion – ‘The Idea of Time in the Work of James Joyce’
Frank Budgen – ‘James Joyce’s Work in Progress and Old Norse Poetry’
Stuart Gilbert – ‘Prolegomena to Work in Progress
Eugene Jolas – ‘The Revolution of Language and James Joyce’
Victor Llona – ‘I Don’t Know What to Call It but It’s Might Unlike Prose’
Robert McAlmon – ‘Mr Joyce Directs an Irish Word Ballet’
Thomas McGreevy – ‘The Catholic Element in Work in Progress’
Elliot Paul – ‘Mr Joyce’s Treatment of Plot’
John Rodker – ‘Joyce and his Dynamic’
Robert Sage – ‘Before Ulysses – and After’
William Carlos Williams – ‘A Point for American Culture.’

These essays were rounded off with ‘Two Letters of Protest’ at the end:

GVL Slingsby – ‘Writes a Common Reader’
Vladimir Dixon – ‘A Litter to Mr James Joyce’

Stuart Gilbert suspected that the latter ‘litter’ was by Joyce himself, but the real Vladimir Dixon has since been identified.


Sources & Further Reading:

Beckett, Samuel, et al: Our Exagmination Round His Factification For Incamination Of Work In Progress, London: Faber & Faber, 1961 (originally published in Paris by Shakespeare & Company in 1929).

Goldwasser, Thomas A, ‘Who Was Vladimir Dixon? Was He Vladimir Dixon?’ in James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 3, Spring 1979, pp. 219-222.

James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 3, Spring 1992 also contains articles about Vladimir Dixon.